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Mississippi could set penalties for luring people into gangs

After hearing concerns about racial profiling, the Mississippi Senate voted Wednesday to set penalties for people who lure others into gang activities despite worries from black lawmakers who think the bill amounts to racial profiling.

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 3:41 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — After hearing concerns about racial profiling, the Mississippi Senate voted Wednesday to set penalties for people who lure others into gang activities despite worries from black lawmakers who think the bill amounts to racial profiling.

Republican Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula said investigators are requesting the bill because they say gangs are a problem in many parts of the state, including inside prisons.

"We don't want to admit that we have a problem that we do," Wiggins said.

If Senate Bill 2868 becomes law, luring a young person into gang activity would be a form of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A violation would be punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Several black senators said they worry that African-Americans who are not in any kind of gang could be targeted for punishment.

The bill identifies gang members as at least three people involved in criminal activity who identify themselves by a common name, slogan, tattoo or other physical marking; a common style or color of clothing or hair; and a shared hand sign or gesture.

"My concern with that is within the black community, we have a tendency to utilize many of those features, and we are just everyday good folks. ... It's not an indication that we are in any kind of gang," said Democratic Sen. Willie Simmons of Cleveland.

Wiggins replied that he would not ask fellow senators to pass the bill if he thought it would be used to unfairly target any group.

"The profiling is wrong," Wiggins said. "The law enforcement I know don't do that."

Senators voted 35-14 to pass the bill, which goes to the House for more debate.

Another bill awaiting consideration in the House would require five to 15 additional years in prison for any proven gang member convicted of a felony. Prisoners couldn't be released early from the extra sentence.

House Bill 541 also would designate any gang-related crime as a violent offense, meaning offenders would have to serve half of their sentences in prison before becoming eligible for parole, instead of a quarter of that time. Other provisions would bar sentence reductions for gang-related crimes.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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